Cork vs. Cap: Which Wine Stopper Is Better?

Cork vs. Cap: Which Wine Stopper Is Better?

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Biodynamic, natural, and Napa Green licensed, planet-healthy wines are extensively accessible. But what concerning the packaging? Today we pop (or uncap) the query of wine stoppers.

Put a Cork in It?

Wine drinkers are divided over whether or not it’s higher to cork a bottle of wine or cap it. But there are a number of types of cork, every with completely different efficiency and environmental impacts, and screw caps should not the one different to cork.

The basic pure cork wine stopper is the primary that involves thoughts. But there are additionally granulated corks made from leftover granules from the pure cork manufacturing course of. Technical corks are produced from a mix of pure and granulated cork. Synthetic corks might be produced from any variety of supplies, reminiscent of rubber, plastic, and even bioplastic.

Screw caps, or Stelvin caps, are produced from aluminum with an inside plastic seal.

Technical Performance

You may bear in mind Steve Martin asking Kermit the Frog if he want to smell the bottle cap in The Muppet Movie. Many servers now “maintain the cap and switch the bottle,” however the affiliation of screw caps with low-quality wine has been arduous to shake, although corks and screw caps are each accessible at each value level.

Many winemakers maintain that the tighter seal of screw caps is preferable for preserving younger wines, whereas appropriately growing older a wine requires porous cork. That thought is now contested.

cork trees, bark recently harvested
The bark of those cork timber is harvested to make wine corks. Cork manufacturing preserves these carbon-sequestering forestlands from growth.

Ecological Performance

Cork enthusiasts level out the ecological and cultural advantages of cork forests. Harvesting cork preserves forestland from growth, whereas the impacts of aluminum extraction are extreme. A peer-reviewed life cycle analysis confirms that aluminum screw caps require much less water to supply than different stoppers, however produce essentially the most greenhouse gasoline. Whole-piece pure cork manufacturing has the bottom local weather affect. Plastic stoppers fall someplace within the center.

Most wine stoppers should not simply recyclable. Recycling packages are unlikely to just accept artificial corks as a result of it’s often not possible to inform what materials they’re produced from. The plastic liner that provides Stelvin caps such seal additionally dooms them to the rubbish bin in most communities. (Tip: take away the plastic liner and recycle the aluminum caps the place you recycle scrap metal. Find a location close to you with Earth911 Recycling Search — simply enter your ZIP code.)

Granulated corks comprise as much as 25% nonrecyclable glues and binders. Although technically biodegradable, pure corks don’t break down simply and most municipal composting packages is not going to settle for them. Consider upcycling this sturdy materials or search for a Cork ReHarvest or Recork assortment level close to you. You also can mail corks to CorkClub, however it’s essential to pay the transport.

Wasted Wine

Wasted wine is an even bigger downside than unrecycled stoppers. Cork stoppers are inclined to improper storage situations and cork taint, a fungus that ruins the flavour of wine. Industry enhancements have considerably decreased the incidence of cork taint, nevertheless it nonetheless impacts between 3% and 6% of cork-stoppered bottles.

Shattered Expectations

One different stopper that has so much going for it is usually one of many oldest — glass. Glass has been round for millennia, nevertheless it has solely begun for use for wine stoppers previously few years. Designed to seem like decanter stoppers, they supply a chic presentation with no danger of cork taint. Thanks to a plastic gasket, glass stoppers present as tight a seal as a screw cap. The glass used to make stoppers is stronger than the bottle it seals and is recyclable. The stopper can be utilized to reclose a half-finished bottle of wine (though the seal is not going to be as tight), or might be reused as a stopper for home-bottled dressings and syrups.

Unfortunately, the supplies and bottling processes are more expensive for glass than for both cork or caps, which has significantly slowed the adoption of the glass stopper. For now, you’re most certainly to search out glass stoppers on a restricted variety of “way of life” wines the place aesthetics are as vital to the model as taste or ecology.


The life cycle evaluation didn’t account for loss as a consequence of spoilage in corked bottles. It’s unclear whether or not that may cancel pure cork’s lowest total manufacturing affect. Thanks to the supply of cork assortment packages, cork most likely maintains its benefit. Overall, the distinction amongst stoppers might be not sufficient to affect your alternative of wine. But the bottle itself deserves additional consideration.

Originally printed on February 12, 2019, this text was up to date in January 2023.